One Thing Jesus’ Birth Taught Us about Being Human

"Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands" (1 Chron. 21:13b).

Kiuko (CC)

David calculated the risk, and he decided. His words sounded wise, but soon seventy thousand of Israel would be dead, their corpses rotting in the streets.

And not enough tombs to hold them all.

David said he was in deep distress before the plague, but now he was beyond that. Seeing God’s angel with sword drawn over Jerusalem pushed him over the edge; he begged God for the mercy he had counted on:

Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd, have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Lord my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people. 1 Chron. 21:17

So now he’s a shepherd? Just nine months earlier he was a prideful king.

Yet Another Reminder It's Better to Give Than to Receive

Another angel appeared to different shepherds in the context of a different census. This time much less threatening. No sword, no plague. Just good news:

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10b-11

Yes, this time things were different. Here was the mercy and the reconciliation David had counted on centuries earlier. Jesus had come to save the world.

This time God used a census to fulfill prophecy.

You see both David and Caesar were in charge of the most powerful kingdom of their day. Both commanded a census. And both had selfish motivations for doing so.

Caesar to institute a new tax across his empire.
David? Well the Bible isn’t clear exactly his motivations, just that they were wrong. Since scripture says he counted the fighting men, it is likely he was preparing for new conquests.

Whatever the case, both of these leaders wanted to get something—money, fame, new territory, self-esteem. Then Jesus came and showed us what a real leader should look like. He didn’t come to get anything at all. On the contrary.

Under the auspices of Caesar’s demonstration of pride, the Christ was born in the humblest of circumstances.

But Jesus’ methods don’t apply just to leaders. He showed what it means to be a human: to live sacrificially, to give and not to receive despite the flesh’s desire for edification.

How to Escape the Scourge of Sin

Whether he knew it or not, David’s prayer was prophetic:

Let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people. 1 Chron. 21:17b

Jesus descended from David; he was David’s family. And God’s hand fell hard on Jesus as he hung from that cross.

Humanity is plagued by sin—by pride and selfishness—but God won’t let that plague remain if you’ll only accept His son who was born of virgin in a mangey manger. His son who lived a life of perfection, showing a new way to be human, and then died a sacrificial death at Calvary.

As you celebrate Christmas this year, remember Christ’s death in the context of the oft-repeated yuletide verse, “It is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

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Merry Christmas!